Industry Trends: What's the Deal with Pop-Up Shops?

Published: Jul 27, 2015
Last Updated: May 12, 2016

It happens every day. You could be walking down the street when suddenly you think, “There wasn’t a clothing boutique there last week, how did that open so quickly?” Brace yourself, you may have just encountered a pop-up shop! A “pop-up” is a business that is renting a vacant space, part of a larger store, or is quickly assembled in a public area to sell specialty or novelty items. These businesses are usually operated  for a limited amount of time, anywhere from one day to a few months. They may correspond to a season or a holiday: think the Halloween costume stores that suddenly “apperate” around August and disappear in November. While the concept of the pop-up store isn’t necessarily a new idea, the term "pop-up" only emerged around 2009 and has caught fire in recent years

Why Open a Pop-Up?Pop-up shop that says Opportunity Calls

These blink-or-you’ll-miss-it hot spots are a great way for entrepreneurs to see how their business fares in a new neighbourhood or just to garner attention to their brand without the commitment of a long-term lease. This could also be a perfect way to dip your toe into the brick-and-mortar world of retail if you’ve only had an online business up until now. 

Pop-up shops can also be a great way to collaborate with other retailers. Much like a roommate, you can save money on rent and split the costs of space, design, and overhead costs, similar to an event like a craft fair or any place there are booth sellers. One of the neat things about pop-up shops is that they can exist in unexpected spaces where a tradional retail space wouldn’t normally, anything from a shipping crate to an outdoor “snow fort’ complete with free hot chocolate can host these unexpected retailers. 

Perks of a Pop-Up

Pop-up shops are a great way to do a test run of that new product you’ve been tinkering with. They create a sense of urgency to a customer, who may feel that if they don’t buy that item they’re eyeing now, they might miss out if the shop closes it's doors soon. This is a great way to increase product turnover.

Pop-up shops aren’t just for retailers though, restauranteurs have gotten into the action by “taking over” other eateries for a night as a way to introduce a new chef to the community and bring attention to the hosting restaurant. Here’s some food for thought: a study conducted by EventBrite concluded that “Pop-up dining events attract guests who are willing and eager to pay more for a unique dining experience.” The site also offers a “Pop-up Playbook” with helpful tips for putting on your own event. 

If you’re lucky, depending on your business plan and the popularity of your store, you may decide to go permanent; it’s how some of Vancouver’s new popular brands got their start.

Do Your Research

Explore what your competitors are doing at where you can search pop-up stores by location or what they sell. For more emerging trends, check out our blog post on the best industry trends of 2015. Also, check out our related Business Accelerator Guides to develop your small business even more!

Retail and Wholesale Guides
Food and Drinks Guide 

PHOTO CREDIT: Pop-up shop in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, created by Futurilla on June 1, 2013. Image made available by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Last viewed on July 28, 2015.
Pop-up Library, created by Allison Meier on June 8, 2013. Image made available by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Last viewed on July 28, 2015.

Boyce, Susan M. "Western Investor." Western Investor. N.p., June 2011. Web. 28 July 2015. 
"The Rise of Pop-Up Dining Events and the Experiential Diner - Eventbrite : Education." Eventbrite Education. EventBrite, 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 28 July 2015. 
Shontell, Alyson. "18 Amazing Pop-Up Stores That Stopped Shoppers In Their Tracks." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 03 May 2011. Web. 28 July 2015. 
Spiegel, Alison. "Study Shows That People Are Getting Even More Obsessed With Pop-Up Restaurants." The Huffington Post., 12 Apr. 15. Web. 28 July 2015. 
Thompson, Dan. "Just What Is a Pop Up Business?" Pop-Up Business for Dummies. -For Dummies, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. 
Watkins, Amy. "7 Vancouver Pop-up Shops That Went Permanent." 7 Vancouver Pop-up Shops That Went Permanent. BC Living, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 July 2015.